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Last Updated: Thursday, 30 November 2006, 15:48 GMT
Atlantic rower calls club sexist
Roz Savage and HMS Southampton
Ms Savage said she was feeling embarrassed about the fuss
The first woman to row single-handedly across the Atlantic has accused an Oxfordshire rowing club of sexism.

Roz Savage, 38, of London, was told she could only have "associate" membership of Leander Club as her achievement did not qualify her to be a full member.

Ms Savage said the fact some men who rowed in the Oxford and Cambridge boat race were given full status, while her two efforts did not count, was sexist.

Henley-on-Thames-based Leander said the issue was about "strict criteria".

We do not feel we have done anything wrong here.
Charles Baker, Leander Club

Leander Club described Ms Savage's 3,000 mile (4,828km) Atlantic row, which she completed earlier this year after 103 days at sea, as an achievement of "endurance rather than excellence".

Ms Savage, who is currently in Mexico preparing to row across the Pacific next summer, wrote on her website blog: "Well, I don't want to be a member of any club that doesn't want me as a member.

"Obviously my two half-blues for representing Oxford in the women's boat races against Cambridge aren't enough."

She added the Leander Club website revealed many male members had taken part in the Oxford-Cambridge boat race or competed in other prestigious events.

"So go figure. The men's boat race counts. The women's races don't," she said.

'Disservice to others'

Charles Baker, general manager of Leander Club, said: "We are not denying Miss Savage's undeniable contribution to sport, but it is a different criteria to our club's raison d'etre.

"We do not feel we have done anything wrong here.

"It would be a disservice to other men and women who have become full members within the strict criteria to start weakening the rules by which full membership can be offered."

He said Ms Savage had rowed in the second team for Oxford whereas those who qualified for full membership had been in the first team.

Ms Savage suggested she would not be taking up the club's offer of an associate membership.

"Maybe I'll found my own rowing club to rival Leander - the Meander Club - in acknowledgement of the typically wiggly routes that ocean rowers take," she said.

Leander Club was founded in 1818.

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